Photo Essay Tips You Need To Know Right Now

March 15, 2018

It goes without saying that photographers need visual inspiration. Whether it’s a specific type of art, a person, a place, or even a memory, it’s important for any artist to be able to pull their creative energy from all sorts of forces to influence their work. For many aspiring photographers, meeting other artists and photographers enable them to make the connection between their images and who the photographer is as a human being.

Over the years, photography and film have been the predominant forms of modern storytelling. While photography has captured history in print, videos and movies have immortalized real-life stories as they happened. Today, thanks to innovation and technology, and the power of social media, photography has become an even more incredible source of information, influence, and inspiration.

Professional photographers know that you can tell a story through a single photo—an image that is captured not for aesthetics but for the authenticity of beauty and realness could render an audience under its powerful spell.

If you’re exploring ways to convey your story or message through a photo essay, you can always find different kinds of techniques and methods to execute your work. Whether you’re a blogger, a journalist, or a professional photographer, you can check these tips on how you can improve on curating your work.

Choose a topic or theme - while you can most probably come up with a lot of amazing and creative ideas, it’s wiser to stick with something you can easily familiarize yourself with. This especially works with non-professionals who are still experimenting. If you want to explore the unfamiliar, just make sure you have a pretty solid plan from start to finish. Otherwise, you could end up starting something you can’t finish.

Do your research - acquaint yourself with the culture, the people, and environment. There’s nothing duller than a contrived image that looks too perfect or scripted. For example, if you’re covering a foreign birthday party, get into the details like how they prepare the food, the invitations, decorations, and other interesting “rituals” or traditions. This way, you can capture small but significant aspects of your story and create a more nuanced storyline. Use this time to also consider what kind of camera or equipment you’ll need. It also helps to factor in the weather and other resources that might pose as a challenge.

Consider your photo subjects - whether you’re shooting a person, a place, or a lifestyle, you must ask yourself what it is about this subject is interesting? How can you catch its essence? Is there a right time of day to shoot? Is there anything beyond what the naked eye could see?

Plan your shots and don’t think about sequencing - do an ocular if you have to or talk to your model and collaborators about how you plan on directing your shoot. While you have an outline to refer to, don’t box up your story by following a sequence. If you’re going for a narrative theme, arrange the shots accordingly during your editing session.

Select, edit, polish - it may be difficult to choose some photos over others but a necessary practice for any photographer is to be able to put emotions aside to be able to objectively select the “right” ones. It’s never an easy process but it’s something that will teach you how to be more professional in the long run. Make sure to edit your selected photos but be mindful not to alter its original beauty.

Choose a catchy yet honest title and written statement - while your photo essay represents the originality and creativity of your work, your title is the first thing your audience will see. Make sure you write a clear, catchy, and genuine title. Veer away from clickbait types as readers might not take your photo essay seriously.

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